A question of compassion

The Times steps up its support today for the blogger-led campaign on behalf of the UK armys Iraqi employees now facing persecution in Iraq, in a strident leader entitled A question of honour.  This follows a page lead story in which the Times states that one of the UK armys Iraqi interpreters was beaten by militia infront of his wife, then dragged away and shot as a collaborator.

Honour, it seems, says the Times, Was withdrawn together with the troops.

While I think its great that the Times has thrown its considerable weight behind this campaign, which gathers pace every day and crops up all over the web see this posting on the messageboard of the pop band Muse, for example Im still worried that this leader column is a bit reductive. There are 2.2 million Iraqi refugees, most of whom have never worked for the British. And while I can appreciate the line of argument that the UK should help those who face persecution as a result of helping the UK, isnt there then a danger that Gordon Browns promised review will help the 91 interpreters that the issue has somehow been boiled down to, and feel theyve done their bit?

Meanwhile, the UK continues to return failed asylum seekers to Iraq! According to the Coalition to Stop Deportations to Iraq, the Home office returned another three people to Iraq last week, and plans to return yet more this week. And the US ambassador to Iraq has warned that it may take the US two years before it resettles the 10,000 Iraqi refugees referred by the UN, according to the Huffington Post.

Ill be at the Labour Party conference next week, where we have fringe events on both the refugee crisis in Iraq and the shoddy way that the UK treats failed asylum seekers, many of them Iraqi, who cant return home.

Another country where conflict has created a refugee crisis is of course Sudan (and neighbouring Chad, which houses many of the refugees). On Friday, Amnestys advocacy officer Allan Hogarth interviewed the UK government's Minister for Africa, Lord Mark Malloch Brown after his recent trip to Darfur, Sudan. The interview covers the urgent need for the international peacekeeping force, the continuing availability of arms despite the embargo, and the high levels of violence against women and widespread impunity. You can see it here.

Finally, a warm welcome to Niall, who started in the media team today and is sat next to me. Look Niall, youve only done one day at Amnesty and youre famous already

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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